Thursday, July 31, 2008

What Obama’s Middle Class Tax Cut Would Mean to Utahns

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama has floated the idea of providing a “middle class tax cut” of $1,000. His campaign appropriately points out that this would eliminate the income tax for millions of people. What would be the impact here in Utah? I guess it depends on what you consider to be “middle class.” My wife and I for the first time last year, broke the six figure mark for Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). I live in a modest house in a relatively inexpensive community. We have two vehicles, one a 1996 model, the other a 2002. Our federal income tax burden was around $10,500, equating to a roughly 10% effective tax rate relative to AGI.

In Utah, the average federal income tax for AGI groups are as follows:

Over 1,000K---$708,958


For filers reporting AGI less than $25,000, Obama’s plan would for the most part eliminate their income tax liability (depending on whether they file as single or married filing joint) and assuming that Obama considers middle income to include up through $100,000, the cut would reduce by over half the tax burden of filers filing between $25,000 and $45,000. As you increase in AGI, the percentage of a decrease in your tax burden goes down significantly. I don’t know whether the decrease would somehow disappear once someone reaches a certain threshold or would the decrease be in effect for everyone’s income to a certain degree.

For the record, I am supporting Barack Obama, but I don’t necessarily support the tax cut he is proposing. The myth that the middle class is over-taxed by the federal government makes good politics, but it doesn’t hold when given careful scrutiny. With deficits out of control, a declining dollar, wars being fought in two countries and crumbling infrastructure needs, I don’t think it is time for a tax cut. I believe a tax cut will make things worse, not better. A short-term infusion of money may help people pay their increased gas costs, but in the long run, we need to be spending money developing clean and renewable energy and developing better mass transit systems.

And though I am in favor of progressive tax policies, I think the current income tax is already fairly progressive. All Americans need to pay their fair share. Eliminating people from paying taxes reduces their investment in our country. To some extent I agree with Fareed Zakaria, in his book “The Future of Freedom”, that the need for taxes makes government responsible to the public. Our nation was not founded out of a rebellion against taxes, it was a rebellion about taxation without representation. And as our government spends more money than it takes in, the old adage is true, “if you are spending too much money, you don’t solve the problem by quitting your night job.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Healthcare Crisis- America's Lack of Planning

In a market-driven system, increases in demand and a relatively fixed supply will result in an increase in price. This is basically Economics 101. Following World War II, the United States experienced what is referred to as the baby boom. Boomers as they are called have aged over time, and because of their demographics, have put a larger and larger burden on our health care system. We as nation anticipated this and new it was coming. We knew that the payouts to social security would grow as the boomers retired and we knew the costs of medicare and basic health care costs would grow as well. But what we as a nation didn't do, was deal with the supply-side of this issue. For example, Utah had one medical school in 1960. It still has one medical school. The demand for doctors has overtaken the supply, and medical schools never expanded to the degree necessary prevent the costs of doctor-care to increase significantly.

This has been a boon for doctors, living a standard of living that previous generations of doctors could only have dreamed about. And though some doctors claim that high malpractice insurance costs have eaten into that standard of living, I have not met any doctors (outside of residents) living from paycheck to paycheck. In fact, as a management consultant in my younger days, I was told to get to know as many medical doctors as possible, because, they were the investor class that I could call on to help clients get seed capital for their new ventures.

This lack of planning is coming home to roost. Many doctors have more patients than they can handle and no longer accept new patients. For some doctors, by the time you get to see them, you are either dead or better. With the aging boomer population, business is "booming." And still, I don't hear of a national push to increase the number of doctors. The market reaction, has been to force alot of medical tasks that used to be performed by doctors, to be now performed by Physicians Assistants and Nurse Practitioners.

To a great extent, the same market forces that come from increased gas prices from a shortage of oil production, also has affected health care costs. The demands are increasing, and the supply isn't keeping up. The result is a decline in the quality of health care we are able to secure, even if we do have insurance. And facing the economic pressures of increased prices, insurance companies are under pressure to decrease costs by denying claims and forestalling procedures, some of them essential to one's survival.

This crisis facing our nation will not improve in the short-term. Unless there is an expansion in the number of people admitted to medical schools accross the country, a continued growing demand will intersect with a stagnant supply, and create future cost increases and degradation of service. And even Democrats, proposing universal health care coverage, need to be aware, that in order to manage the costs of their proposal, they must do something about the supply-side of this basically economic equation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Principle vrs Party Affiliation

For the record, let me state that I am a liberal Democrat who is moderate in certain ways. I'm a loyal Democrat who has worked hard for many Democratic candidates. I cherish the memory of past associations such as my friend Pete Suazo and Wayne Owens. I've learned alot from people far smarter than me. I've even found wisdom from people less educated and gifted than I view myself.

But let me say, that the partisan discipline and loyalty shown by Republicans in the U.S. Congress and Senate is greatly disturbing to me. That all Republicans should be so like-minded on so many issues makes me seriously wonder, whether Republicans are devoted to our nation, or to the prerogatives of their party affiliation.

There was a time when principled Republicans dared differ from their party bosses. The Watergate impeachment could not have taken place if Republicans such as Sen. Howard Baker, Bill Cohen and others saw their devotion to the rule of law, above their partisan support for President Nixon. It is notable to me, that such figures as a young Congressman named Trent Lott saw the same evidence of obstruction of justice, that Bill Cohen did, and stood by his President and voted NO for impeachment.

Morally, the Republican party is an empty shell of what used to be a principled opposition to governmental intrusion into American citizen's lives. The degradation of the Republican party into a power hungry and amoral, corporately sponsored and inherently corrupt agent of tyranny is embarrassing to the traditions of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Howard Taft I,II, and III, Barry Goldwater, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Republican party has put power over principle on every major issue of our day. The fact that Democrats haven't done more to counter this threat to our Republic is a shame all of us Democrats share. It is that shame, that causes me to speak out and blast people from both parties, when they fail to recognize the significance of what has happened, and display a lack of resolve to correct it.

It may make me as popular as a fart in a crowded elevator. But I'm not interested in popularity. I do this because I'm deeply concerned and I don't feel I have any other outlet. And the "blue-belly" democrats may continue to appease Republican authoritarian tyranny, I will not be party such an appeasement policy.

Sorry to preach.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thoughts on Obama's Trip

The last couple of days, I had the misfortune of lying in a hospital dealing with a recurring staph infection I seem to get about every other year. Unfortunately, the only news cable network available was the "Fair and Balanced" one. Not being able to get my fix of liberal slanted news, I went ahead and listened to the propaganda coming in from nutjob land regarding Obama's trip. It was interesting to me that so many of John McCain's talking points seem to be the same talking points emphasized on Faux, but I'm sure that was just a coincidence.

Here's a few of my oservations regarding that trip:

1- The Iraqi people and their leader Maliki, would not only be able to work with an Obama administration, they might actually prefer one.

2- The war in Afganistan is going much worse than the Bush Administration has led on, and that more effort may be needed in that country.

3- The claim by the McCain campaign that an Obama presidency would potentially cripple Israel is unfounded, and in fact, counter-intuitive to everyone except the most radical right-wing jewish factions.

4- Obama'a reception in Europe shows that Europeans are still hopeful and desireful for effective American leadership, but the kind of leadership that that brought them the Marshall Plan and Nato, not the unilateralism of George W. Bush,

The spin from the McCain camp was that this sort of trip was premature. I disagree. This kind of trip was essential. It is important to let the other countries of the world know, that the nightmare that was the Bush administration was an abberation, and not representative of what they can expect from our government.

WHether we like it or not, we are still the world's only superpower. Though much of that power has been dissipated and misused, the U.S. is still the major player internationally. How we play our cards influences the well-being of other countries. Our stands and our practices on human rights affects the parameters that other regimes, rogue or otherwise, may limit themselves by.

Each nation of the world values their sovereignty, but also recognizes that effective leadership, which can provide stability and prosperity, is in their sovereign self-interest. That leadership was lacking during the Bush administration. Leadership is about convincing others to come along. Part of convincing people to come along is employing intelligent and moral policies. Bush took the role, "if you won't come along, I'll do it myself." And the result was an illegal war, illegal torture, illegal detainments, illegal spying on American citizens, as well as the citizens of these sovereign countries without oversight and without justification.

One thing to consider as well, is which Presidential candidate can work with other nations the best to resolve the many challenges we have as a planet? Obama, making his trip to meet with foreign countries signified the importance he perceives of these relationships. We as a nation benefit by having a President who can not only appropriately perceive and promote America's best interests, but work with others to acheive those interests and find common ground. McCain's criticism of Obama for this trip seems like a "whaaaa, I wish I thought of this" and a "whaaaa, I why doesn't the world want a continuation of John W. McBush?"

Obama's trip sought to spread hope to the world, that the United States has not abandoned it's core values permanently, that a change of course is on the way, dependent upon the wishes of the American public. In this regard, this election isn't a mandate on the Bush administration. It is a mandate on whether the American people can be trusted, to be true to the values they preach, and to their own political system they market to the world. That we are a nation of laws and values, and not just a rogue nation willing to use it's power as it sees fit.

American people, the world is watching. They want to know "who are you, and can you be trusted." In November, we'll find out if they can.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Congratulations Are in Order to Fellow Blogger Urban Koda

Check out his blog at: (I hope it is alright to post this Urban). Urban's wife gave birth to a little girl, Bronwyn Ntombi, on Tuesday, July 22 at 3:40 pm. I hope all is well for the Koda family.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Management Perspectives and the Utah Legislature

About a month ago, I attended some seminars on fraud and loss, and management effectiveness. A recurring theme was "tone at the top" of organization and how it influenced the organization and determined whether that organization was effective or ineffective. Top effective management teams are:

Ethically upstanding

Within that context, I began to look at Utah's Legislature and asked myself, whether they would qualify as an effective team. Admittedly, they aren't the executive branch, but serve as a legislative body. But my own perception, is that there are many areas regarding "transparency", "open", "fair", "balanced", "positive", etc. where the legislature in general looks pretty dysfunctional, not-withstanding the obvious one, "ethically upstanding." What characteristics would you hope to find, in an effective legislative body?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Utah Republicans and Prop 13

There have been rumblings about some of our less than enlightened Republican legislators flirting with a Prop 13 sort of proposal, where properties are assessed based upon their acquisition cost. For the record, I am amazed that Utah's highly dysfunctional and one-partied state managed to produce something that I actually feel works rather well. It is called "truth in taxation." This provision in Utah law makes it so state and local government cannot reap a windfall from rising property values. This is something Utahns should be proud of. It makes the property tax much more fair than it otherwise would be. Utah's legislature has also instituted "circuit breaker" tax relief for those who risk losing their home due to property tax liabilities.

In many ways, Utah's response to the rising property values of the 1970's was enlightened by comparison to California's politically charged response. The one thing I would have changed, is to create the ability of the various entities to base their tax rates upon certain inflationary factors. The lack of such a provision has resulted in most state and local jurisdictions to rely upon fees that have had a tendency to be regressive.

Basing the property tax on acquisition cost creates inherent inequities. People with like properties will be assessed differently, based upon whether they bought their house during a time of residential inflation, or deflation. The property tax was designed to tax people equitably based upon the current value of their property, not based upon whether they moved here when the housing prices were high, or weak.

Democrats, need to be engaged in this process of defining policy options. My option, that I believe should be considered, is to base the residential exemption upon 45% of the median primary residential property in each county. This way, if new growth coming from starter McMansions drive up the value of Grandma Baker's house, it also increases the residential exemption available to counter it. You could also use the mean, but at this point, I would propose the median.

Democrats need to point out, that an acquisition cost property tax, will stifle companies moving their employees to this state, where they, with recent acquisitions, will shoulder the tax burden for those who have been here longer. It will also facilitate complex leasing arrangements rather than sales, and I haven't yet digested what that will mean to Utah's realtors.

My suggestion is this. We don't have a property tax problem that is not solveable. An acquisition cost system only worsens inequities, and potentially stifles economic growth here in Utah. This is my warning on the record, that this is a bad idea, proposed by people who haven't thought through the consequences, and are unlikely to stop because of them.

What I Expect Out of a Utah Democrat

I expect that a Democratic Utah official will be responsive to the public. Wayne Owens, as a Utah Congressman insisted that his staff be responsive, even to those who called him every name in the book. I had a great deal of respect for Wayne Owens and considered him a personal friend. Rep. Jim Matheson? He's no Wayne Owens. I have yet to hear his justification for his FISA capitulation. As a leader in the blue-belly coalition of Democratic appeasers of Bush misbehavior, I would have atleast welcomed a non-sensical and easily refuted response like I got from the Obama people.

But here is a man whom I've had a history with. I've donated money to, I've carried bumperstickers for, I've defended him from criticism from my more liberal friends, and I have received no response. No explanation. Nothing to suggest that he is engaged with Utah's citizens. Has he drank the kool-aid like Hatch, Bennett, Bishop and Cannon, and decided that Utahns are irrelevant? That an inquiry from a Utahn is not worthy of a response because, well, what matters is what goes on in the beltway, not on the 453 UTA bus coming in from Tooele?

Plainly, I'm at a loss. No one, on either side of the aisle, can coherently and convincingly explain why they decided to obliterate the spirit of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The dearth of a response is an indictment against the political culture we live in. I expect such indifference from Republicans. But I hold Democrats to a higher standard. If I am going to share a bed with you, I expect you to brush your teeth and take a shower. As it is, I'm plugging my nose.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

There Went Lunch- Courtesy of the Utah Republican Party

from their website at I just read the following under "We Are Republicans Because",


"We are a law abiding Party and support the rule of law."

At the end, they say,

"Join with the Republican Party as we promote and defend these principles and values."

I need a shower.

Enlightenment Thinking and the Role of the Individual

Over at One Utah, Glenden Brown wrote a post on the influence of “the enlightenment” on the thinking of our nation’s founders and upon the establishment of a Democratic Republic which grants rights to the individual. Last night, I was listening to flute concertos by Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach (CPE Bach), an enlightenment composer and I contemplated the significant differences between his musical style and that of his illustrious father, Johann Sebastian Bach (JS Bach).

JS Bach is admittedly my favorite composer. His music has a lot of power, which is derived from a rational mix of structure, harmony and an amazing technical understanding of how notes relate to each other. JS Bach through his music, sought to glorify God, and to speak through the idiom of music, the power, knowledge, and mystery of an all-powerful and all-knowing God.

CPE Bach was greatly influenced by the music of his father, and borrowed from his father’s music liberally during his long career, first in Berlin and later in Hamburg. But what is interesting and striking, is the differences in the musical language and the differences in the goals of his music relative to his father’s. Like his father, CPE Bach wrote religious music. In fact, I would rank his “Die Auferstehung und himmelfahrt jesu” as probably one of the ten best oratorios of the 18th Century. But the portrayal of God is strikingly different from father to son. The mysterious and powerful God of JS Bach, is replaced by a God that is more human, and humane. The God of JS Bach is to be revered and feared. The God of CPE Bach is one you’d have a beer with. Much of this is the result of the enlightenment thinking that influenced CPE Bach in the intellectual circles he gravitated towards in Hamburg.

The musical language of CPE Bach sought to internally examine the soul of man. His language reflected the “empfindsamer Stil” or “sensitive style” and the focus of his music is human emotion and understanding. The role and value of the individual is central to CPE Bach’s music and is also the focus of enlightenment thinking. Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau, Locke, Hume, Hutcheson, Voltaire etal., placed value on being true to oneself and to the power of reason. This line of thinking is what inspired the likes of Jefferson, Madison, Paine, Franklin and others who helped found our nation. Instead of a nation where God had granted powers to the king, our nation was created with the notion that God had granted inalienable rights to the individual.

Individual liberty, enshrined in the secular, rational, thinking of enlightenment philosophy was a dramatic break from the past. It created an optimistic view of humanity that focused on human potential, not on human failings. It subordinated the government to the individual, not the individual to the government. And though you could argue that America was and continued to be a predominantly “Christian nation”, it was also a nation predominated by a Christianity in flux. The powerful medieval God was being replaced by a more personal God. And as Christians argue that man is created in the image of God, I would argue that man creates God in his own image. And as humanity became more rational and humane, so did the Christian God of the time.

And if you want to understand which direction we are going as a nation, we increasingly see a re-emergence of the medieval God that subordinated individual liberty to the whims of the state. The gains Americans made via the enlightenment are being rolled back. The question is whether the train is stoppable at this point. I’m hopeful that it is.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Giving Credit When It's Due to Morgan Bowen

Admittedly, I was very irritated at the FISA capitulation. I harangued unmercifully our own beloved Rep. Jim Matheson, Speaker Pelosi, Stoney Hoyer and Barack Obama. What I never really did in one of my posts was give adequate kudos to Morgan Bowen for speaking out on that issue. This was not an issue that had alot of upside with Utah voters. I had a difficult time finding much discussion of the bill on SLTRIB, DESNEWS, KSL or any other local news source. But I found it significant that Morgan Bowen became knowledgable on the subject, and recognized the gravity of what was happening. And he did what statesmen do, he spoke out and put himself on the record, that Constitutional principles mean something to him.

I first met Morgan Bowen at my county convention. I was deeply impressed not only with his knowledge, but his passion for the principled positions I believe Utahns can embrace if they cut through the clutter of soundbites and flag-waving. The breadth of his knowledge was matched with a determination to use that knowledge to better our Republic and I have the utmost respect for individuals willing to invest their time to our political process and to provide voters with a sound choice.

So, much belated kudos to Morgan Bowen for speaking out about the importance of preserving our rights under the fourth amendment. As the election progresses, I will do what I can to help Morgan Bowen get elected. I don't have alot of money to contribute this year, but what I have budgeted for Congressional races, the vast majority will go to the Bowen campaign and a special thanks to Jim Matheson for simplifying my contribution budget.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Are We To Be Governed by Laws? Or Men?

The recent FISA capitulation by the legislative branch represents just a glimpse into a wider arching problem that is confronting our U.S. Constitutional framework and how it has been subterfuged by the Bush Administration. I've had government officials tell me over and over again, "it's the law, if you want the law changed, go through the process to change it." We as citizens don't get to pick and choose which laws we obey. In theory, government officials in the executive branch don't get to pick and choose which laws they enforce. Admittedly, they often have to prioritize where to place their limited enforcement resources, but there should never be this presumption, that the law doesn't apply to them.

Enter the Bush Administration, the greatest challenge to Constitutional government we may have ever had as a republic. What is compelling and alarming, is the pattern of lawbreaking without accountability you see in the Bush II era. Violations of FISA surveillance laws is just the tip of the iceberg. Violations by the Bush Administration of torture laws, international treaties such as the Geneva Conventions, illegal detainments, and perhaps most interestingly, "signing statements" indicating which parts of legislation the executive deems worthy of imperial consideration. Bush has vetoed relatively few pieces of legislation. The reason, he has declared through "signing statements", that he alone gets to determine what is effectively, the law of the land.

The blatant and pervasive contempt for the rule of law, would have been harshly addressed just a generation ago. Republicans and Democrats would have for the most part discarded partisan divisions in order to preserve the rule of law. In today's partisan environment, Republicans in lock-step fashion block Democrats from preserving the rule of law, knowing that enough Democrats will be cowed by fear of enflaming the authoritarian conservative masses, to play with them.

This contempt for the rule of law is why I am not afraid to criticize Democrats when they empower those who would abuse the rule of law. Failure to do so, puts me on par with Republicans, who reject the rule of law when a Republican is in power, but use it as a blunt force weapon if a Democrat should hold office.

What it comes down to, is respect for the law. Our loyalties must be to the law, not to those who govern us and certainly not to their party offiliation or political philosophy. If we disagree with the law, we have recourse to change it. But when we shred the most basic fabric that holds a Constitutional society together, we are exposed to an amoral world, where power rules over principle, and we are vulnerable to those who would exercise power over us. The degree to which we have descended down an authoritarian path, is shocking. And when liberal bloggers such as myself are shrugged off as "extremist malcontents", I know for a fact, our Republic is in danger.

Sorry to preach.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Utah's Burden of Federal Income Tax

In looking at Utah’s tax burden, the federal income tax represents a large percentage of that burden, particularly for those who make more than a modest income. The Utah Tax Commission has some interesting data on their website and I’ll be taking that data and examining it a little bit. The federal income tax is not as progressive as it was prior to the Reagan administration, when the marginal tax rate for the wealthy was at 90%. However, the federal income tax remains relatively progressive. For return year 2006, Utahns paid nearly $6.2 billion in federal income tax for individual filers. And though filers with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) over $1 million represent only .19% of the population, they pay 23.58% of the federal income tax burden in Utah. Taking the effective tax rate of filers within certain AGI ranges produces the average effective tax rates as shown below:

------AGI Class(thousands)-----------Effective Tax Rate
________________>0____________________________-.22% _______________0-5_____________________________.38%
_______________30-35__________________________4.43% _______________35-40__________________________4.74%
_____________Over 1,000______________________24.97%

What the chart shows, is that despite various tax cuts to the wealthy, the federal income tax remains a fairly progressive tax. What it also means, is that if you give future tax cuts in the income tax, the majority of the benefit will go to the wealthy because, frankly, they are the ones who are paying the most tax.
The chart below also shows the percentage of Utahns by AGI class and the percentage of the federal tax burden.

AGI Class(thousands)_______Returns Filed_____%Income Tax Paid
>0 _______________________1.21%_______________.03%
Over 1,000________________0.19%_____________23.58%

It is interesting to note that filers with an AGI of less than $50,000 pay less than 10% of Utah's federal income tax burden.

These figures have certain implications. First of all, any attempts at a flat federal income tax would massively redistribute the tax burden from those making making over $100,000 a year to those making less. Also, any attempt at gutting the federal income tax and replacing it with a tax on consumption (a regressive tax), would even more massively redistribute the tax burden. And though conservatives will often argue that a flat tax or consumption tax is more fair, that fairness needs to be explained to Americans of all stripes about what it will mean to their own overall tax burden.

As mentioned before in other posts, I have indicated that Farmers generally don’t pay any taxes. Statistics from people who file a schedule F, shows that Utah’s agricultural production results in a net decrease in federal and state income taxes. Given what farmers and ranchers are allowed to expense and capitalize, every AGI class showed negative earnings and therefore reduced the federal tax liability of those who engaged in agricultural activities. The 17,414 schedule F’s for return year 2006 resulted in $137.7 million in farm losses which were deducted from Utah’s federal and state income tax base, of which over half of that amount or $76.2 million was from returns where the AGI exceeded $50,000 for return year 2006. It is interesting to note that 55% of the returns filed which filed a schedule F had an AGI over $50,000 for 2006. What this means, is that there may be many engaged in agriculture who do so part-time, and the purpose of which is to reduce federal and state tax liabilities on their more considerable sources of income. Now because we have to eat, I do think there are some good reasons for helping our farmer’s out and encouraging land be used for agricultural purposes, but I do think it is fair to the citizens of the state to recognize the degree to which they are in fact subsidizing farmers in our state by paying their share of our tax burden to provide services for our schools, roads and other worthwhile services.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Stunned I am- Unlawful Surveillance Made Lawful

I guess I should have seen the writing on the wall. Naively thinking that our Congress and Senate would fulfill their Constitutional role to act as a balance against an unchecked imperial presidency. In the Republican party, where are the Howard Baker's? Where are the Bill Cohen's? And among Democrats, why is it that that only 25 Democrats willing to stand up to the Bush Administration and defend our Constitutional values.

And whenever I hear our brave Utah Senators talk about defending the Constitution, we need to remind them that when it was hanging by a thread, they bore their scissors and cut away. And Obama showed a glimpse into who he really is, which is someone who covets power enough to compromise on principle.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hatch and Bennett- Support the Rule of Law

Let's see some noise among the Republican bloggers who support the Fourth Amendment and believe in the rule of law. I already know both Hatch and Bennett, and my opinion generally does not matter to them. Perhaps it does to liberty loving Republicans.

Today, the vote for telecom amnesty goes before the United States Senate. Sen. Hatch and Bennett will show whether they blindly support a corrupt president who spied on Americans without oversight in violation of the law. And they will show that the rule of law means nothing to them, because we can just retro-actively legalize those who broke the law.

So to my Republican friends, I lay the challenge before you. If you support the FISA bill going before the Senate, justify and defend that support. If you oppose the bill, speak up to your Republican U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Robert Bennett. I'm counting on you.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Two Hundred and Thirty Years Later, Who are we?

As we celebrate Indepence Day, I ask the question, "who are we?" I am well aware of what we were. I have studiously studied history and my mentor J.D. Williams told me to embrace and appreciate the uniqueness that it is to be an "American." Our country was much influenced by enlightenment thinking from the 18th and 19th century. The wisdom of Rousseau, Locke, Hume, Hutchison, Voltaire and Klopstock enabled a colony subservient to monarchy to break free of this constraint and devise a system of government that was accountable to the people, but constrained by the Constitution. Individauls became important, with inalienable rights, not wardens of the state or Dukedom. Certainly, our founders feared rash actions, and wanted to suppress the pashions of public opinion. David Miller in his fine blog has done a wonderful job of analyzing the "federalist papers" and examining what our founders had in mind.

But life today, seems to be dominated by fear. The attacks on 9/11, created an environment where Americans gave unprecedented powers to the executive branch under the guise of protecting us. Many Americans, magnified the Al Qaeda victory over us on 9/11 by discarding the Constitutional provisions that provided for oversight of the Executive Branch. Republicans in lock-step, and Democrats fearing appearing soft on terrorism, surrendered without condition freedoms that many of us took for granted.

Let me put it plainly. Every liberty we surrender in our quest for better security is an appeasement to Al Qaeda. Every freedom we give up tells Al Qaeda, "uncle."

Listen, I am not willing to say uncle to a bunch of uber-religious morons like Al Qaeda. But the adminstration of George W. Bush has done nothing but emboldended the religious fanatics I despise. Bush is incompetent on many levels. But his handling on the war on terror will be used for generations regards a "not what to do" warning.

Admittedly, I supported the surge, and showed a certain confidence in Gen. Petraeus, Sec. of Defense Gates and others. Not because I supported the invasion of Iraq, which I didn't, but because we are actually there, and we now have a responsibility to the Iraqi people to give them a fighting chance to secure a better life. The positions I've taken are not popular with liberals or conservatives, but are based upon my own analysis.

BTW, I hope everyone enjoys the 4th of July and contemplates upon what is the best things that have made our Republic a remarkable experiment.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My Message Sent to Barack Obama


I think Glenn Greenwald from got it right when he wrote:

"A typical line in Barack Obama's stump speech throughout the primary season was that "the era of Scooter Libby justice . . . will finally be over." But this new FISA bill -- and the immunity it bequeaths -- is the very essence of "Lewis Libby justice": ensuring that our highest political officials and other well-connected elites can break our laws with total impunity. Courts keep ruling that the President and his allies have no excuses for having broken our laws, while our political establishment acts to ensure that they are protected from the consequences."

It's not too late to show the kind of leadership many of us thought we were going to get when we whole-heartedly supported your campaign. Please step up and not only oppose, but lead other Democrats in opposition to this evisceration of the Fourth Amendment.

Obi wan liberali's IRL Name

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Matheson, Matheson, Matheson.....

Sorry for the Ferris Buehler reference.

Just an update- I still have not heard back from our "blue-belly" democratic congressman from the 2nd Congressional District. Neither he, nor one of his staffers has sought to contact me and explain his vote, despite two requests. I'm entertaining plausible explanations for the silence:

1- My e-mail came accross a little strong and therefore I hurt Jim's feelings and he and his staff felt such an e-mail is unworthy of a response from someone with the inherent uprightness of Jim Matheson.

2-Jim has no good explanation for his vote for telecom amnesty. However, he is told by his pollsters that giving his Republican candidate any ammunition at all on being "soft" on the Bush Administration's war on terror is a bad thing, so hopefully, he'll just go away and the issue will die.

3-Jim truly believes that the government should be able to spy on it's citizens without any oversight from the FISA court and that the Telecoms were doing their patriotic duty in fighting the war on terror. Above all, the fact that this liberal blogger is against telecom immunity, suggests he is not a real American and shouldn't be answered by his office, but referred to the FBI for further investigation.

4- Jim and his staff have been busy receiving campaign contributions from telecommunication company execs and will answer the e-mail as soon as he can catch his breath.

I'm betting on either 3 or 4.